Science fiction and superhero author, Jeffrey H. Haskell, joined us this week to talk about his experiences with Kindle Scout, writing in two different Kindle Worlds, and launching his superhero series last summer as a relatively new author.
Here are some of the specifics of what we covered:
How Jeff honed his writing skills by ghostwriting on Upwork.
How his experience with Kindle Scout went (he published urban fantasy under a pen name).
Why he decided to try writing in a couple of different Kindle Worlds, including Lindsay’s Fallen Empire world.
Whether Kindle Worlds was useful in gaining readers that would check out his other work.
How his passion for comics led him to publish in the superhero genre.
How doing a monthly giveaway on Amazon, using their giveway program (scroll to the bottom of most books, and you can find the option to host a giveaway) helped him gather followers on Amazon, some of whom turned into buyers for his books. This turned out to be a very inexpensive form of advertising for him.
Why he went with a full-price book launch for his Book 1 and how he kept things rolling over the following months until Book 2 came out.
Whether a “publishing coach” is ever a good idea.
What we should be doing to maintain a lifelong writing career.
Suggestions for new authors starting out now.
You can visit Jeff on his website, where he’s happy to answer questions, and you can check out his first superhero novel, Arsenal, at Amazon.
If you’re in need of cover art, you can also check out Vivid Covers, which is run by Jeff’s wife, Rebekah.
Our guest this week launched her first novel in April of 2017 to great success. Amanda Milo’s science fiction romance, Stolen by an Alien, stuck in the Top 250 overall in the Amazon store for months and remained near the top of the scifi romance Top 100 too. She’s since published two more novels in the series for the rabid fanbase that she’s already established.
We brought her on to ask about how she launched to such success, why she’s continued to launch her books at 99 cents, and how she used some atypical (for the genre) cover art to find her target audience.
Here’s some of what we covered in more detail:
How Amanda launched her novel without professional editing or a cover that she loved but made it work anyway.
Combining 99 cents, Kindle Unlimited, and a story written for a niche audience to find success.
What level of sex readers are looking for in the science fiction romance category.
Some popular story types in the genre.
What readers expect from the alien abduction trope.
The challenges of writing strong female characters and balancing them with some of the romance tropes of rescues or abductions.
Using the cover, especially in romance genres, to signal to the reader what to expect as far as heat level, in particular.
Why Amanda has stuck with 99 cents so long for her books.
Whether novellas and shorter stories can work in scifi romance.
Using a Facebook page and Facebook groups to connect with readers.
On today’s show, Jo, Jeff, and Lindsay answered some listener questions and shared their notes from the workshop that Jo and Lindsay attended in October, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rusch’s Business Masterclass. It was a week long workshop that covered dealing with Hollywood offers, handling foreign rights offers without an agent, increasing writing productivity, estate planning and tax stuff for authors (including when it makes sense to incorporate and which type of corporation in the US), and updates from Kobo on their plans to add audiobooks to their catalogue, among many other topics.
Here are some of the specifics of what the gang covered today:
Jo and Lindsay jumping into Patreon (right as Patreon changed their pricing structure and left folks in an uproar, of course!)
Whether NetGalley is useful for indie authors or primarily aimed at small presses.
If it’s okay to sell print and audiobooks in other stores if your ebooks are in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited at Amazon.
Whether a pen name needs a separate social medial platform, website, and Goodreads account.
Whether an author with a new series ready to go should consider self-publishing or traditional publishing right now.
Saving money on taxes as a writer by incorporating.
The importance of getting an accountant that specializes in finances for creative people, such as authors, artists, musicians.
Keeping in mind that all the books you write are pieces of intellectual property and as such have some value.
Tips for hiring a virtual assistant (or nine).
Pricing for libraries if you’re trying to get your ebooks picked up by them.
Kobo to add audiobooks to its store.
Going non-exclusive with ACX or producing an audiobook through Findaway Voices in order to take advantage of some of the other up-and-coming markets besides iTunes/Amazon/Audible. Also being able to choose your price in these other marketplaces.
Why you may want to set up your books at IngramSpark as well as CreateSpace.
Why you don’t need an agent to negotiate on foreign rights deals.
Waiting for publishers in other countries to approach you versus methods of gaining their attention.
What to expect from foreign rights sales in terms of money and reception of your books in other countries.
On this week’s show, we chatted with Russell Nohelty, who wrote for film, TV, animation, and comic books, before getting into novels a few years ago. He’s different from many of our guests in that he’s not doing much of his selling online. He makes a good living by traveling and selling his novels at conventions, thirty to forty cons a year.
We asked him all about which cons are worth going to, getting started as a newer author, getting onto panels, the costs of tables, and how to actually sell books while you’re there.
Here are some of the specifics covered in the interview:
Some of the reasons Russell likes selling at conventions, such as fewer authors that you’re competing with for attention (hundreds vs. the millions at Amazon), an opportunity to establish authority, and a chance to meet your target audience and also network with other authors.
How much you can expect to pay for a table and whether it’s better to be in Artists’ Alley or get a more expensive vendor booth in the Exhibition Hall.
When it’s okay to split the cost of a table with other authors.
Creating exclusive versions of your books for conventions (Russell uses the option at Ingram Spark to have books with different covers) and being able to charge more for them than at the bookstores.
Whether you need to be traditionally published or if anyone can buy a table.
Whether larger venues are likely to be more profitable or if it’s easier to be noticed and sell books at a smaller convention.
Collecting email addresses digitally at your table by using a tablet that signs visitors up to a list immediately.
Using giveaways of some of the popular products at the convention in order to get more list signups.
If there’s any chance at selling books if you’re introverted and not a natural salesman or saleswoman.
How many print copies of your books you should bring at a convention.
How Russell has occasionally found bookstores near the convention that will let him do signings and ship and store the books he’ll sell at the convention to them (as opposed to paying the high storage fees for the hotel or convention).
Selling USB drives with your whole library of ebooks on it for a great price to the reader that is still profitable to you.